Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Apparently I’m on a bit of a French restaurant kick. It is really just coincidence though, as we’ve been meaning to visit Meritage for a long time and decided to go before a concert.

We arrived a bit early and they were not quite ready for us yet as it was the first seating, so we had a drink in the bar. The hostess come for us once they were ready and things proceeded quickly from there. The service was actually very good throughout our visit and the server offered helpful suggestions as well.

We started with a half dozen ousters as they were on special  for oyster day at $2 each. I think I forgot to snap a photo of them though. The special oysters were fine for me and John ordered a few Glacier point oysters as well.
John had the hanger steak with pommes frites and bernaise sauce on the side. The steak was very tender and delicious. The fries were not bad either.
I had the herb de Provence crusted ahi tuna nicoise with crushed potatoes, summer beans, tomato marmalade, escarole and black olive oil. The tuna was wonderful and cooked rare as requested. I only wished for a larger portion of the potatoes. It was a very fresh, spring-like dish.
We finished with the creme brûlée, because it is my duty to try it in as many restaurants as possible. This was an excellent rendition and I recommend.

Meritage was an excellent experience and I highly recommend visiting. The food and service were all wonderful, even when they were quite busy before an event at the Xcel center. Reservations are of course, highly recommended.

410 St Peter St
St Paul, MN 55102
Phone: (651) 222-5670

Friday, September 15, 2017

Duluth Trip Report 06.30-07.03.17

Many times, over the Fourth of July we go up North with friends to Turtle Lake, but for a variety of reasons that was not happening, so we decided to go to Duluth for the weekend. We've been meaning to go forever, and the Brewery Passport we have been working on really motivated us as there are a few places in the book in this area. 

This is long overdue and I did not take many notes, so details are going to be sketchy, but I wanted to post the information and photos I do have. 

We stopped at Gordy's Hi Hat in Cloquet for lunch. First time. Bit of a line, but went quickly and food didn't take that long.

The burgers were great, I was not crazy about the onion rings or the fries. The onion rings were really greasy.

We checked into the hotel, the Radisson in downtown Duluth. Supposedly it has been remodeled, but it still needs work. I'm going to leave it at that. They do allow pets, which is nice, but we were relegated to the annex rooms in the back, so no lake view for us. Or King bed. Boo. I used hotel points for most of the nights and ended up getting my points back for one night, which was nice.
Stopped at Bent Paddle brewing for a Brewery Passport stamp. 
Finger's brewhouse. She great beers that no one really ever talks about. I loved the apricot wheat.

We sat on the pier at Fitger's overlooking the lake an enjoyed some food and beverages. 
tuna tartare
It rained pretty hard for awhile so we went back to the hotel to get Maya. Once the rain let up we went down to Canal Park and sat on the patio at Canal Park Brewing.
some more snacks

I think we called it a day after Canal park Brewing, plus it was kind of challenge to have Maya along as she did not enjoy being in the hotel room alone very much. Let's just say we visited Duluth's dog parks frequently.
For breakfast, we went to Duluth Grill. This place is worth the wait and as good as everyone says it is.
excellent sourdough toast
breakfast melt sandwich 

After breakfast, we collected Maya, packed up the car and drove up the North shore to Grand Marais. It was a very pretty drive, though the weather got colder and rainier the farther north we went.
Asian wings
pork sliders
We had lunch and beverages at Voyageur Brewing Company, which was also dog friendly.
Donuts at Wold's Best Donuts n Grand Marais

We stopped at Gooseberry Falls for a little hike 

We made one last brewery stop at Castle Danger brewing. I don't think it was in the passport, but their beers are all over in Duluth and quite good.
We dropped off Maya at the hotel and went over to the Anchor Bar for burgers. It is an interesting little place, and the burgers are the real deal. Fresh cut fries too.
I think we called it a day after burgers and all of the fresh air. 
Sunday morning we headed to At Sara's Table at Chester Creek for breakfast. Breakfast burrito for John.
Hippy breakfast for me- it was basically scrambled eggs with potatoes on the side. After breakfast we walked around Canal park, but it was a lot busier down there than when we arrived on Friday.
We grabbed lunch at Sir Benedict's, up by Fitger's. 

Maya got tired out from all the action and excitement. It is hard to get her tired sometimes!
We sat on the patio at the Blind Pig as they had live music inside and it was pretty loud.
This pretzel was huge....
The rathskeller under the Blind Pig. Apparently it is an old jail and haunted. It is certainly dark and creepy. We stopped in at the casino across the street as well, but it was super smoky and rather sad. They did have a few table games though.
View from the overlook rest area on the way out of town.

We had a great time in Duluth, and even Maya enjoyed it a lot. The dog parks in Duluth leave a bit to be desired though and I think next time around just one or two nights will be enough.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Stephanie and I visited Bellecour in Wayzata. We did Spoon and Stable last year and we were very excited to have another Gavin Kaysen restaurant in the western suburbs. I made a reservation well in advance, but it was not too difficult to find openings.

We arrived slightly before our reservation and were seated right away, as it was a very early reservation. Our server was Ricardo and he did a great job even though he also had a large group next to us, though we found the service became pretty slow toward the end of our visit.

We started with drinks and Stephanie had the Beach Bum, a rum cocktail. The lime on top was flaming on arrival. Super cool touch. I think I had the Daily.
Bread basket. Fresh, warm French bread.
Our first appetizer was the tuna nicoise. It had a nice citrus flavor in addition to the fresh fish. Simple, yet a bit complex.
We also shared the chilled shrimp. The garlic aioli was a nice option to the cocktail sauce.
Stephanie’s entrée was the short rib on the bone with mushrooms duxelles and sauce au poivre. The meat was very tender and flavorful.
I had the halibut with peas. It basically tasted like spring and the fish was very light and delicious.
A side of pommes frites with ketchup and garlic aioli. The aioli was great with the fries.
And since we both love dessert was both had to order one. I had the vanilla crème brulee. Plenty of actual vanilla beans in this!
And the chocolate opera cake with espresso butter cream and candied almonds. The hazelnut ice cream was very rich tasting.

We both enjoyed Bellecour a lot. It feels a bit more casual than Spoon and Stable, maybe as it is in the suburbs or near the lake. I'm not sure exactly why. The prices are definitely on the high end, but the quality of the food is very high and you won’t be disappointed.  The service could have been a touch better, but our server was helpful and friendly throughout. I look forward to going back. I think if you order carefully and left off a couple courses, the total bill could be kept lower. The bar would also be a nice option for a quick snack or drink.

739 Lake St E
Wayzata, MN 55391
Phone: (952) 444-5200

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bar LaGrassa

Bar LaGrassa has been around for quite a few years now, and somehow we have never dined there, which is too bad because we were really missing great food and service. It is a busy place, even still, so reservations are recommended, though I'm sure you can sneak in at the bar or pasta bar pretty easily.
Complimentary starter snack-  it was a few types of beans. I think we also had some bread. 
Seared sea scallops with fresh peas
Langoustine crudo- very fresh and delicious. These taste sort of like lobster. 
calamarata with raw tuna. I had read about this dish audit was as fantastic as it sounded. Fresh cold tuna on a hot pasta, so flavorful.
penne rigate with shrimp- it was basically shrimp scampi. This was a very tasty and filling dish.
Roasted carrots with mint, yogurt and sesame. These carrots were amazing and so full of flavor. Just seeing this photo makes me want to go back and order them again. I can't even being to guess what all goes into this dish, but I suspect it is more complex than it sounds.

The service and food were all very good throughout our visit. I look forward to returning again.

Bar La Grassa
800 N Washington Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 333-3837